© Swiss National Museum

Name of Object:

Earth and celestial globe, the so-called 'St. Gallen Globe'


Zurich, Switzerland

Holding Museum:

Swiss National Museum


Around 1570

Type of object:



Tilemann Stella

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Papier-mâché, wood; painted


H: 233cm, W: 174cm, Diameter: 121cm (with frame), L: 380cm


Northern Germany, Mecklenburg


For many years, the so-called St. Gallen Globe, one of the prized objects of Swiss cultural history, was a source of contention. The globe featuring Mercator maps of the earth and the celestial sphere was created by Tilemann Stella in northern Germany towards the end of the sixteenth century, as a document discovered in 2016 reveals. Although they were not suitable for navigation, globes were extremely popular in the early modern period. What makes the St. Gallen Globe so special is its combination of world and celestial globes. Entitled as a gift, which, however, was later satisfied, the globe was incorporated in the library of the Abbey of St Gallen where it was kept until 1712. During the Second War of Villmergen the globe was robbed and carted off to Zürich where it was displayed in the Wasserkirche (Water Church). St Gallen demanded the return of the globe, but to no avail. When the Swiss National Museum was established in 1898, the globe passed into the hands of the Swiss Confederation; it has been on display in the museum ever since. The dispute over the treasure, which went down in Swiss history as the cultural heritage conflict between Zürich and St Gallen, was only resolved in 2006 when the St Gallen Abbey library received a true copy of the contested globe.

Current Owner:

Zentralbibliothek Zürich

How date and origin were established:

In 2016 a document was found which revealed the globe’s origin.

How Object was obtained:

The globe was donated 1595 to the Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen and robbed 1712 by Zürich troops during the second Villmerger-wars. Since then it is in the property of the Stadtbibliothek Zürich, now called Zentralbibliothek. When the Landesmuseum opened its doors in 1898 it was given into possession of the Landesmuseum as part of the “Morgengabe”.

Citation of this web page:

 "Earth and celestial globe, the so-called 'St. Gallen Globe'" in MWNF GALLERIES , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;GALLERIES;sw;Mus01;4;en&id=scientific_objects

MWNF Working Number: CH_GAL_004

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